The Cango Marathon (42km) & Half Marathon (21km)
Way back when as far as 1982, before a lot of readers and runners were born, there was a sitcom called Cheers. It was here that Ted Danson’s career probably took off. Cheers is an American sitcom television series that ran on NBC from September 30, 1982, to May 20, 1993. It was here too that the theme for the sitcom became extremely well known and gives me the opportunity to dedicate the very same theme to our infamous Asics front runner Wietse van der Westhuizen. No matter where this man goes, has been and intends going to – everybody knows his name!
Where everybody knows your name. And they’re always glad you came
Songwriters: Gary Portnoy / Judy Hart. Cheers Theme
Friday 24th February 2023
Our good friend Paula took us through to DF Malan High School as Carl had arranged with Wietse that his bicycle could travel with the luggage on the coach. With the help of our coach driver Elroy, the bike and bags were loaded and we were very fortunate indeed to land the very first two front seats on the bus to Oudtshoorn. Sheer luxurious comfort as we left Cape Town and settled down for a 5 hour journey. We stopped in Robertson – as we had done on our previous trip – and stocked up with cold cokes, stretched our legs and after forty five minutes we were on the road again.
Once in Oudtshoorn, the coach was parked and it was up to one’s allocated room to unpack. A short walk from the Oudtshoorn Inn approximately 1.5km was the school hosting the collection of race numbers and Tshirts. On this note, I really do (along with many other female friends) wish that the Tshirts would be made for separate genders. The generic Tshirt just doesn’t do it. The chaps just pop the Tshirts over their heads and voila! But women – most of them – prefer a Tshirt that actually fits. A tapered Tshirt. So that when the Tshirt is labelled small it’s a small for women. Not just a small Tshirt that any Tom Dick or Harry could wear. I’m in the process as we speak of remodeling my Tshirt. Right, moving on. At the school we met up with Willie, Gary, Sofia, Zita and Nisrine.
Dinner was at the Spur. Just something light to see me through until the morning. The very very early hours of the morning. This of course didn’t deter Carl from a burger as he would be cycling the route and not running. It was just starting to get dark and once back at the hotel we were informed that the Oudtshoorn Inn was not in possession of an invertor or solar panels. In fact they were in possession of very little indeed. No electricity. No ice. Also, it was a super warm evening so we left our bedroom door open and our balcony door too open to provide a through breeze. I must confess to being disgruntled and thought about Bronwyn who had brought along battery charged lamps, very clever indeed. And Zita who had actually purchased a couple of lights on her way through to Oudtshoorn, just as clever as Bronwyn! Had we known in advance that Oudtshoorn Inn was ill equipped we too would have been more prepared. What did we have? Two head torches. But you know what – those head torches proved to save the day – or evening in our case – but waiting for four hours for any sign of light can take a long long time. Eventually it was 10pm and we scrambled towards the charger with watches and phones in hand.
Saturday 25th February 2023
Rising at 04h10 to an incredibly welcome drizzle . . . . and lights! Yup we had beaten the loadshedding kings at their own game and got ready before they could shut us down. Again. The coach was ready and full up to leave at 04h45 and this it did. We had a lovely ride up to the Caves in our coach unlike our fellow runners who were a lot less fortunate and ended up being ferried in a cattle truck – standing room only. Really? I mean not only was this dangerous being loaded into an open air truck but it was before the crack of dawn and drizzling? Absolutely not the ideal was to start a race – whether it was the 21 or the 42km. What were the organizers thinking? And to top it all, the chap who had the keys to open the Caves happened to oversleep and we were left outside – again before dawn in the drizzle, and majority of us needing the bathroom before venturing off on a 42km run! I tell you what though, the minute the keys arrived there was a rush of folk running through those doors – but guess what? The bathrooms on the ground, first and second floor were locked! So far this wasn’t going too well. Eventually the bathrooms on the third floor became available but by this time it was 05h50, the queue longer than an anaconda and the race was due to start at 06h00. Runners were disappearing into the bushes as an alternative which ended in damned if you do and damned if you don’t? We were graced with the presence of the Mayor who had probably used the bathroom before he arrived!
06h00. Time to race. There is one thing that could not be faulted. The weather. Overcast, cloudy with a chance of meatballs – joking – a fine misty drizzle that lasted throughout the morning until the last 2km’s. For me anyway. I took somewhat longer than most and was eternally grateful that the sun didn’t shine. Along the great trek I met up with a runner called Nosi. Nosi is a member of the Chillie Running Club and together we ran a little, walked a lot, talked a little and I would like to thank Nosi and her club mates for the most amazing support. I was low on tissues plus inclination, and they supplied me with paper towel to see me through. They had bananas and yet more ice cold coke to had which they offered me and I accepted with both hands. Surprisingly I managed to run ahead and would love to know if Nosi made it over the line before the cut off time?
The gazebo’s along the way were just superb. Each and every single person supporting the water tables was honestly happy to see us. I had more ice water tipped down my back than coke that I consumed. It really was a happy run. A long run. A 42km run. But this was my second Cango Marathon and the one run previously was so much more successful than this one. I’m not going to make excuses or look for reasons why this happened, it just did. Fortunately, I don’t need to qualify for anything. No Comrades or Ultra’s which I just couldn’t manage anyway. So plodding along seems to get me across the line and bag that medal.
I stopped along the way to snap up a couple of signposts, camels, merino sheep and some little kids along the way who’s anthem was Hou bene Hou!! Carl was really kind enough to keep an eye on me and at one point asked if there was actually anyone left behind me! Damn not the right question. But he was our Club photographer and managed to capture most if not all of us – that ran the 42km. Our Club Captain Tammy – or Tamster as I like to call her – manned the gazebo on the field which was well stocked with coke/beer/flavoured milk.
As I entered the finishing field at the school, Bron was there to meet me. As she did four years ago when I ran my very first Marathon being the Cango. Bron ran with me then and ran with me again on Saturday. She said it was tradition and she wasn’t going to break that. Once over the line and I’d accepted my medal I hobbled down to the West Coast gazebo and oh my goodness it was so good to be in. To be back. To have finished. When I finish a marathon, I often say gee I’m not doing that again. But I do. An absolute glutton for punishment.
Back to the hotel for a much needed cool off in the hotel pool. Rested the legs for the afternoon and then took a walk – yes a walk – up to Tam and Bruce’s accommodation where we stopped for drinks and a catch up. Dinner was at Nostalgie Restaurant. If you are ever in Oudtshoorn and have the opportunity to eat out – please visit this amazing eatery. Wow it was fantastic. Not cheap but oh so worth every single cent. The most delicious grub. Back to the hotel where there was a passage party. Almost every room on the third floor were sitting out on the passage floor with drinks and snack and we were invited to join them. Which we did. It was such fun and so relaxing. Bed time at last.
Sunday 26th February 2023
Didn’t sleep well – still too pent up from the day’s excitement. Woke up a lot, dozing in between copious amounts of tea and coke. Time for breakfast which really was rather nice. A buffet offering croissants, cheese, cold meats and a good old fry up if one fancied it. At 09h35 we were on the coach destination Cape Town. A forty five minute stop at Barrydale Diesel & Cream where most of us on the bus indulged in milkshakes. But these were milkshakes with a difference. I can honestly say thank goodness I don’t live in Barrydale. I’d be rolling by now. Carl and I opted for a lemon meringue milkshake and oh my goodness it was delicious!!
Ok. I’m done. THANK YOU WIETSE!!! Without your amazing dedication and organizing our coach trip and hotel this event would not have taken place. I’m including you too Wilna and girls as I know that it’s a compete family affair. So thank you all.
And to our wonderful coach drive Elroy who did a sterling job of taking and returning us so safely.
Ending off now with my usual note of this is my opinion only. No offense to anyone. Spread the love. Peace to you all. And last but not least . . . .be kind! Gill